The Congress’ first family of Gandhis decided to retain claim over their pocket boroughs in Uttar Pradesh, with Rahul Gandhi jumping into the fray from Raebareli, vacated by his mother Sonia Gandhi to become a Rajya Sabha MP. While the family’s loyalist, Kishori Lal Sharma, will contest the polls from Amethi, which Rahul Gandhi lost for the first time in 2019 to BJP leader and Union Minister Smriti Irani, who is seeking re-election from the same seat.

Rahul Gandhi, accompanied by family members Sonia Gandhi and sister Priyanka Gandhi, will file the nomination on Friday to fight the battle against BJP’s Dinesh Pratap Singh in Raebareli. Singh had lost to former Congress president Sonia Gandhi in 2019 elections.

This is the second seat Rahul Gandhi has chosen to contest apart from Wayanad in Kerala which he represents in Lok Sabha.

Sharma, who for years has been managing elections of Sonia and Rahul in both the seats, will also file nomination papers on the last day on Friday. Both Amethi and Raebareli will go to polls in the fifth of the seven-phase general election on May 20.  

After the announcement, Sharma said, “I want to thank Mallikarjun Kharge, Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi for giving me the opportunity to contest from their traditional seat. I will work very hard...Rahul Gandhi is not someone who runs away from the ground. No one can predict anything (about votes).”

He said he will meet Priyanka Gandhi on Friday who chose to remain away from elections and focus on the Congress party’s work.  

Congress workers who wanted the Gandhis to fight the electoral battle from their bastion, said that Sharma was acceptable to them as the candidate from Amethi. A Congress worker stated, “There is no shortage of enthusiasm. KL Sharma has always helped everyone for the last 30-35 years, irrespective of their party.”

The Congress Working Committee in its recent meeting had left it to party president Mallikarjun Kharge to decide on candidatures for both the seats. On Wednesday, Congress General Secretary, Jairam Ramesh had told reporters that the decision will be announced in the next 25 to 30 hours. The lead opposition party contesting Lok Sabha polls as part of the larger INDIA bloc alliance, released the two names, early Friday morning.

Congress’ Uttar Pradesh unit had urged the central leadership that the Gandhi family should contest from the Amethi and Raibareli constituencies. Some time back, Robert Vadra, AICC General Secretary, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s husband, publicly expressed his inclination to contest from the Amethi parliamentary seat.